Showing posts with label Sheep's Head Peninsula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sheep's Head Peninsula. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

36 Hours in West Cork. Not that I was counting!

36 Hours in West Cork
Not that I was counting!


Baltimore sunset
I was thinking of Garrett Oliver, master brewer at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, while I was eating lunch at Union Hall’s Coffee Shop last Thursday. Garrett related at the Ballymaloe LitFest how people, on first drinking one of his beers, tell him that it is so good it doesn't taste like beer. Garrett tells them, with some satisfaction, that what they have been drinking before is not real beer.

Well, here in Union Hall, our first call on our most recent trip to West Cork, I was eating real panini. I’m sure there are other good paninis out there but it is superb here, like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was packed with chicken, brie and pesto, all adding up to great flavours and terrific textures.
Panini
 The menu is short here as you'd expect but quality is high. And that is underlined with CL’s Quiche of Roast peppers, feta, Ballymaloe Relish. After that and a good cup of coffee we were on our way.


Having been in West Cork regularly, particularly this year, I were looking for one or two different things to see and do. West Cork obliged. Big time.


Graveyard on Myross Island
 After the Coffee Shop, we headed for Myross Island and found it. Drove up the narrow road to the graveyard which has terrific views over the Atlantic, including the nearby Rabbit Island. Next call was to Reen Pier where we ran into Jim Kennedy. He runs Atlantic Sea-kayaking and has his base here in this beautiful place.


We got some great views of it as we took the narrow road, rising up above the water, heading for a bridge that would take us to the other side and down to the peace and calm of Castletownsend with its distinguishing tree in the middle of the street, acting as a roundabout.

On the road above Reen Pier
 Baltimore was our destination for the night but there would be another stop or two on the way. First was the amazing Lough Hyne (the unusual seawater lough) and it was quite busy with many enjoying the sunshine, sitting around, swimming in the clear waters and others walking on the wooded hill above and getting fantastic views over the coast.


After all that activity, I felt we deserved a drink and knew just where to get it. On the way into Baltimore, we stopped at Casey’s Hotel. They have recently opened a microbrewery here and some of their Sherkin Lass Pale Ale went down a treat in the beautiful beer garden that overlooks the waters of Baltimore. They also do a red ale.


Rolling hills of West Cork
 Time then to check in at our accommodation. This was in Rolf’s. The Haffner family have been here for over twenty five years and their restaurant, where we enjoyed a terrific dinner at night, is well known. It is a great place to stay too, a fine and friendly base for the area.


In the morning, we were down on the pier, hoping to get a place on one of the boats going out to see the dolphins and, hopefully, a whale or two. But we had no luck. The lesson here is to book in advance.


Castletownsend
 So off we went to the Sheep's Head peninsula and stopped at the car park high in Seefin. We were almost sun-burned here a few months earlier but this day turned cloudy for a while and a strong wind greeted us as we climbed along the marked trail on top of the ridge. We got as far as the megalithic tomb before deciding to turn back. Not the best of days up there but still well worth the effort.


Down then to Old Creamery Cafe in Kilcrohane. This is a spanking clean spot with a menu of sandwiches, paninis, and salads and some home baking. We went for tea and some of that baking. I picked a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Sponge and those raspberries, fresh from the garden, were spectacularly juicy.


Courtyard garden at Rolf's
Refreshed now, we drove up the other side of this spectacular peninsula, heading for Durrus. Our stop though was at Ahakista to pay our respects to the three hundred plus victims of the Air India bombing disaster twenty years ago. Quite a few mementos, mainly wreaths, scattered here since the commemoration last June. Such a waste of life, such sadness.
Megalithic tomb on Sheep's Head
The sun was out as we headed over to Schull to see Walter Ryan-Purcell of Loughbeg Farm (now an open farm that you may visit). Walter, his wife and son, were up in Schull and we met them outside the Bunratty Inn, a gorgeous sun trap! Walter is well known in food circles and great to see the success Loughbeg is enjoying with their Oat Loaf. Look out for it in your local SuperValu.

Sweet! Old Creamery Cafe
 Down then to the pier and we were tempted by the fish dishes on offer at L’Escale but had a date in Rosscarbery and, after a walk on the path alongside the harbour in Schull, we headed for Pilgrim’s in Ross. Hadn't been there before, but is is easy to find as it is right smack bang in the centre of the village.

Ahakista's Air India memorial
 We were pleasantly surprised by the very high standard of the food here, a standard that many high class restaurants would find hard to match. We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours in Pilgrim’s before motoring back to the city.

Schull

Friday, May 15, 2015

Staying at Blairscove House. A Perfect Place.

Staying at Blairscove House

A Perfect Place.
West Cork’s Sheep’s Head Peninsula is a special place to visit and in Blairscove House (above) you have a rather special place to stay.

And being in Durrus, it  is a convenient location not just for Sheep’s Head but also for Mizen Head, Bantry, Glengarriff, and the Ring of Beara including the stunning Healy Pass. So much, so close.

Blairscove House is discreetly situated on a small hill overlooking Dunmanus Bay. No nightclubs in the immediate vicinity but if it's peace and quiet you want after a meal at the beautiful restaurant, you’ll get it, maybe sipping a final glass as the sun goes down in front of you.
Above & below: Views from the Loft
There is a choice of accommodation, for couples and families. The owners themselves live in the big blue house which also contains the reservation office. Some of the apartments have views both to the sea and to the landscaped courtyard that often serves as the centerpiece for weddings here.


On our recent visit, we stayed in the Loft, ideal for a couple. It is part of the core complex, sea out front, courtyard at the other side. And, very conveniently, it is just a short flight of steps down to the restaurant! Like all the units, it is very modern, and is fully equipped for self catering and for B & B. We were there for just one night but could have stayed a lot longer!

No shortage of equipment here - we could have done all our own cooking! There was a welcome complimentary drink of sherry. In addition, champagne and white wine were in the fridge and a red in the cupboard; water and milk too!

Breakfast is part of the deal at The Loft as it is in some of the other rentals. The menu is there for you, so you choose one from each of four groups (juice, cereal, “main course”, and tea or coffee), leave it in the restaurant or post in the Cow postbox in the evening, giving the time you want it at.

In the morning, the phone will ring and the breakfast lady arrives. She sets your table, lays out the dishes and your food and then you tuck in. All very convenient indeed. 

The names of the other accomodations are The Piggery, The Coach House, The Smokehouse, Blairscove Cottage and Dunmanus Pier (not adjacent to the main house). Check out the details here.

The house at Dumanus Pier has indeed a rather special situation but don't expect breakfast here as it is some eight miles away. It has its compensations as there are fantastic beaches nearby including Barley Cove and the lively village of Schull is just down the road.
Breakfast is served, top right.
Top left: Porridge, bananas, honey and cream.
Bottom left: Scrambled duck egg with Gubbeen sausage and tomato.
Bottom right: Crumpet, crushed avocado, poached egg and bacon.
The various properties are pristine today but that wasn't the case when the De Mey family took them over in the early 80s. Great credit is due to them as they have created something of a calm paradise here, an oasis in Durrus (which, with Durrus Cheese and the Good Things Cafe), is quite a food hub.


Even in paradise, and even after a hefty breakfast, man must eat of course and all the more so if you have been taking one of the many gorgeous walks on the peninsula, as we did here. And your first stop just has to be their restaurant and bar. We had the most fantastic evening meal there during our all too short stay. The end of a perfect day in a perfect place.


See also (from this trip): Dinner of Delights at Blairscove House